Police footage casts doubt on self-appointed watchman’s claim that he shot black teen in self-defence.
|Zimmerman, left, was driven away from the prison and is expected to stay at a secret location [Reuters]|
George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, has been released from a Florida jail, after a judge set bail at $150,000, a spokesperson for the sheriff in Seminole County, Florida, has said.
Zimmerman, a former neighbourhood watch volunteer, was released from the county’s John E Polk Correctional Facility shortly after midnight on Monday after posting bail and meeting other conditions set for his release at a pretrial detention hearing on Friday.
Under the conditions set by Judge Kenneth Lester Jr, Zimmerman must wear an electronic monitoring device, although he may be allowed to leave the state.
He will also have to observe a dusk-to-dawn curfew and is prohibited from consuming illegal drugs or alcohol or possessing a firearm.
Television networks showed Zimmerman walking out of the jail in Sanford, Florida, accompanied by an unidentified man. Neither of the two made any statements.
Images showed the men walking towards a car and then driving away to an unknown destination.
No date has been set for Zimmerman’s trial but, due to safety concerns, his whereabouts are expected to remain a closely guarded secret until his next appearance in court.
Also on Monday, the police chief in the city where Martin was shot was to permanently step down from his post under an agreement that still must be approved by city officials.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee had temporarily stepped aside as chief March 22 after enduring strong criticism over his department’s handling of the case.
Charges against Zimmerman came more than 40 days after he told police he shot and killed Trayvon Martin
Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in a gated community in Sanford in central Florida on February 26, in an incident
that triggered civil rights protests nationwide and fired a national debate over guns, self-defence laws and race in America.
Zimmerman, who is white and Peruvian, has said he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defence after a confrontation that occurred as Martin was returning to his father’s house in the community after buying candy from a convenience store.
Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to
use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.
The lack of an arrest led thousands to march in protest rallies in Sanford and across the country, calling for Zimmerman’s arrest and “justice” for Martin. The public outrage caused the Sanford police chief and regularly assigned prosecutor to step aside.